I am so excited about my new toy that Santa brought me this year. It is a Flip Video Camera! Now I can start taking real video shots of my family and share them with others. Check out one of the highlights from our Christmas.
We had a great Christmas this year! My sister Allie was able to come up from Utah, and we even had a little bit of snow, but not on Christmas. (Sad) We made graham cracker houses, made cookies, treats, and all sorts of yummy food, saw cool Christmas light displays, visited Comet and Cupid, and opened up a gaggle of gifts from Santa Claus. We hope everyone else had a splendid Christmas, too!
I know there are many things to be unthankful for about unemployment, but I've decided to stretch myself and find all the things I am thankful for about unemployment and find those "tender mercies" that we've been given:
1. I've been able to build my teaching resume. I really do enjoy it, and I am even being pushed mentally to go back and get my math endorsement.
2. We are actually saving money! I guess that is what happens when you have income, but hardly any expenses, i.e. no rent (thanks mom and dad)!
3. I get to see my Scotty a ton, and so do the kids. We REALLY like that!
4. Our kids qualify for government programs, and because of this, Luke's dental surgery will be paid in full, and not from my pocket.
5. We still have Scott's AWESOME benefits package from Federal Way, and because of that, we will only have to pay a co-pay for any kind of medical care that we need.
6. We get to spend the holidays with family. It was great being able to go down to Utah for a week to see the Pingels for Thanksgiving, and I am very excited to have Christmas with my family for the first time in 3 years.
7. Scott gets to be apart of Easton's school experience, apart of his extracurricular activities, and take him on field trips. That probably won't happen often once he has full-time employment.
8. We got to see every member of our family this year, including living grandparents, because we had the time in the summer to tour around the western U.S.
9. I am becoming more humble through this experience, and more willing to do everything possible to make sure I am ready and worthy to recieve any blessings that might come my way.
10. And last, but not least, I am thankful that I get to see my faith grow and see how my Heavenly Father truly loves me and my family through this experience.
Don't get me wrong, this unemployment thing isn't easy, and I have moments when it is hard to see all the blessings that I have, but I'm glad that I can still remember everything that I've been given too. Its easy to see the rainbow after the rain stops, but its much harder to find the color and sunshine in the midst of the storm.
The only day of the week that I don't work is Monday. That is when Scott goes over to volunteer for the city of Richland. Every other day of the week I wake up at 6am, quickly get ready for the day, eat a hearty breakfast, and then I'm out the door around 7am. But, sadly, on Mondays, I don't do much. I stay in PJ's for about half the day, some Mondays I justify that there is no need to shower, no makeup is applied, I spend about 3 hours on the computer catching up for the week and blogging (Notice today is Monday), and let my kids just hang out and watch TV. The only thing I do get accomplished on Monday is the laundry, and maybe make a really good dinner that requires some effort. Ahh, think of everything that I could get done if I had the same drive on Mondays, that I have on all the rest of the days of the week.
Recently, since Scott has been the one at home hanging out with the kids all day, he came up with his own routine to get him through the day. He got sick of the kids just free-playing all day long, and erupting into fights and tears, so he made up 'Activity Time'. Many of you Moms might already do this with your kids, but I was quite impressed that my husband thought of this wonderful solution to the day. For an hour each day before Easton goes to school, we whip out the crayons, markers, file folder games, white board, scissors, workbooks, etc., and do actual learning activities. Easton loves to trace his letters and practice cutting out shapes with his scissors, and Luke loves playing the file folder games and sounding out words with Dad using the white board. It really has tamed them for that hour of the day and is a great transition for Easton to get ready to go to school. Each day is different, but any time our boys hear "Let's do activity time!", they immediately drop whatever they are doing and run into the kitchen because they are so excited for what is in store.
On a side note, I forgot to mention my little Max's accomplishments for this last month when he approached 7 months. *He still gives us the happiest smile, with little sound, and continues to be the "happiest baby" in the ward. *He has now found his own bedroom in the computer room because HE KNOWS when he is in the same room as mom and dad during the night and will wake up ALL NIGHT LONG if he knows we are in the vicinity. Hallelujah for wakeless nights! *He now has his 2 bottom teeth, and I'm sure his 2 top teeth are not far behind. *He can sit up for extended periods, but still has a hard time maintaining it all by himself without pillows behind him. It must be hard to balance that much weight on such a little body. *He still laughs hardest for his brothers and will be the happiest boy in the world if he sits amongst them while they play and chews on one of their toys. *I'm guessing he weighs over 18 pounds now, which I think Easton weighed at a year old. *He is SO NOT a cuddler. If you hold him on your hip, he will balance his body away from yours, because he does not want to cling on or hug on you. Oh well, we still have Luke who wants to cuddle, all day long. *Max has also invented a new toy out of an old one. He rocks his Exersaucer like a rocking horse and he loves it! Sometimes he'll get going really good and I'm afraid he'll tip it over.
Easton has become quite entertaining and very inquisitive lately. Here are how some of our conversations have gone:
Easton: "That is a big moon." Me: "When it is a circle like that, it is called a Full Moon." Easton: "And sometimes, moons are shaped like bananas."
Easton: (looking at a skeleton) We have lots of bones in our bodies. Me: Yes, we do have a lot of bones. Easton: And sometimes people don't have bones. Me: No, everyone has to have bones, or else we couldn't walk. Easton: Yeah, if you don't have bones you turn into jello.
(Max is screeching on the floor) Easton: Mom, why are babies so loud? (He said this with a very annoyed tone of voice.)
We have also recently read a book about a little black girl in the 50's era, in the south with segragation. She talks about why she doesn't get why she can't sit in the front of the bus, or sit on a park bench, or even go into certain restaurants. Easton has some cute little black friends in his preschool class. So we discussed how, a long time ago, his friends wouldn't have been able to sit with him on the bus, or maybe go to school with him just because they have dark skin. This made him very sad, but I told him its okay now, and isn't he glad that he gets to play with Ruth and Jeremiah at school (their names). Well, today he recalled this as he got ready for school.
Easton: There are three friends that have dark skin. Me: Yeah. Easton: And there are lots of friends who don't have dark skin. Me: Okay. Easton: And the friends with dark skin have to sit in the back of the bus. Me: Oh no, Easton! Thats what USED to happen. They can sit wherever they want to now, isn't that nice! Easton: Yeah!
So obviously, this was too large of a concept to teach to my 4 year old, but he is getting it.......sort of. We might have to reteach some of this, so he doesn't say anything questionable at school to his teacher or to his friends.
Anyway, Easton has very funny things to say, and he is so serious when he talks, and we love that he is growing up to be such a cute and wonderful big kid.
This has been my lucky week. First I won 2 tickets to Disney on Ice from the local radio station in a drawing, then Luke won the costume contest at the Ward Halloween party, and my mom's Chili won 2nd place at the party, when we had only decided to cook it a half hour before. Well, we just won again yesterday!! My mom and I took my kids to the Halloween Costume Contest at Fred Meyer, which ended up not even being a contest, but just another drawing. I guess you had to have your costume on to enter the drawing though. Well, guess who was the 1st person they call out, yep, little Peter Pan himself, Luke! We won a $25 gift card to Fred Meyer (free Christmas presents!!). I can't believe all of this happened in one week! I never win anything, but I guess, never say never!
On another note, Luke and Easton enjoyed Trick or Treating last night, but got pooped out after the 10th house and were asking "Can we go home now?" Well, we did head home, but we made them keep knocking on doors all the way home. Aren't we mean parents! But the sad thing is now we have an insane amount of candy in the house. The kids got candy from the ward party, from Fred Meyer, trick or treating, and my mom only had about 6 trick or treaters because they are basically the only house on the new block, and there aren't even street lights on up here yet. Guess what this nursing mom is fasting from today?
We enjoyed helping the boys carve thier pumpkins this year, but neither one of them was the least bit interested in touching the pumpkin guts (they get that from thier father). The boys were so excited about thier costumes, and have asked to try them on daily and for anyone new who comes over to the house. Easton was "Captain Hook" and Luke was "Peter Pan" although some have confused him as Robin Hood, oh well. My mom and I had a good trade: I substituted for her class, and she sewed the costumes all day. She did a great job, because Luke won 1st prize at the ward Trunk or Treat party.
Luke was hilarious at the Trunk or Treat. I have never seen a kid more excited about getting candy! He sprinted from one car to the next, running right up to the candy-giver and screaming at the top of his lungs "TRICK OR TREAT" or "HAPPY HALLOWEEN" or "I'M PETER PAN!" We kept have to reign him back in because he was so excited, he had no idea where to go next and was just running frantically through the parking lot.
Easton of course, was his usual timid self, and would not let go of my hand if his life depended on it. I had to push him forward a few times so he could retrieve his candy.
And of course Max, just enjoyed the scenery and got honorable mentions for the costume contest, when everyone in front was yelling "give something to the Tootsie Roll, he's so cute!"
We had a great time, and mom and dad have been enjoying all of the delicious Halloween treats that thier kids brought home for them.
Scott has been able to play Mr. Mom lately while I substitute teach, and he does an awesome job! On Thursday, he was able to take Luke and Max on Easton's field trip to the pumpkin patch with his preschool. They had an awesome time! Luke just ran up to the group as they unloaded from the bus and acted as if he was part of the class. The teacher was so nice and even had a bag for Luke so he could pick out a pumpkin too. I think Luke thought it was so cool to come to "school" for a day and be with Easton and all of his friends. Easton thought it was cool that Dad came, and also thought riding the school bus was the best thing since sliced bread! (Which is really good, because he starts taking the bus to school next week. Mom and Dad are tired of the 1/2 hour round trip drive to the school twice a day). Easton was also really excited to show Dad all of his friends at school, and I'm actually surprised to say that he knew all of their names. It was a great day at the Pumpkin Patch; I'm just sad I missed it!
There is nothing like a Washington apple. When I lived in Utah, I would go to the grocery store and buy these little dinky apples, the size of the unmatured, unripened ones that would fall off the trees in Washington, and there would be a sticker on it saying it was from California! It was so sad! The apples in Washington are almost the size of grapefruits and are so delicious and fresh.
My mom and I decided to take advantage of the fall harvest season, and went to go get a box of apples from one of Kennewick's many orchards to make homemade applesauce. We got about 30 pounds of apples for $12. We also had other apples that we bought from someone's fundraiser, and another dozen of wonderful Honeycrisp apples that my mom got from someone at her school. All together we had about 45 pounds of apples. We only cooked about half of them, before my hands started to get pruned and blistered, and we were able to get 7 quarts of applesauce. Hopefully, we'll do the rest of the apples, but this time we'll can apple pie filling. I was so glad that my mom took on this project along with me so she could teach me how to can.
Lucas turned 3 today. He was so excited about his elephant cake and presents. It was a pretty normal day for him, but Mom and Dad took him to lunch after dropping Easton off at school. He got pizza for dinner and then we opened presents and had cake. He ate the trunk of the elephant. Luke is such a good brother. By the time we were done and Luke and Easton were playing with all the lute, Easton had effectively split the toys evenly. Luke, as always, went right along with it and was excited to have his share. Mom and Dad were so happy about his excitement for the gift we got him. He has been obsessed with elephants lately, and, as you can see from the video, he was pretty excited to get new elephant toys.
Luke and Max had doctor appts. today and this is thier latest info:
*Luke-3 years old Height: 39 inches (85%) Weight: 34.6 lbs. (75%)
*Max-6 months old Height: 26.25 inches (45%) Weight: 17 lbs. 9 oz. (60%) Head Circ.: 43.5 cm. (45%)
The doctor warned us about people starting to make comments about Luke and his behavior because of how big he is; people will think he is older and expect more out of him. Also, Max, surprisingly, isn't that big! His looks are just decieving, even the nurse thought he would be a 20 pounder before we took his weight. The more he is able to move around, the more that weight percentile goes down. And Max's head is still the smallest of all my boys, even though it looks so big and round. But, all in all, they are very happy and healthy! (And I'm sure Easton was glad to be at school instead of the doctor!) Easton and Luke now weigh the exact same, if Luke isn't by chance even heavier than Easton, and thier height gap has now closed to only 1/4 of an inch. By New Years they will be the exact same size, I am sure!
Max at 6 months: Enjoys blowing raspberries with a mouthful of food Loves eating and trys to bite off the end of the spoon Likes sucking and chewing on his fingers and toes, and just about anything he can get in his mouth Screams until someone just looks at him and then gives a big smile Is learning how to sit, and can hold steady for a good minute or two Rolls over to his tummy all the time, but has somehow forgotten how to roll back and gets very mad at this fact! Loves it when his brothers play with him Still is very quiet and gives us his "silent laugh" all the time Loves being outside, the fresh air always calms him down Is still teething! (None have popped up yet, but we swear he is getting about 8-10 teeth all at once!)
Usually, since we've had kids, we watch conference and listen to it while our kids are running around doing the usual things kids do, or we've taken turns going to the church to listen to it and left the kiddos behind with the other adult so we can pay more attention. This year, since we're in a place where it is televised (go Tri-Cities!) we decided to actually get our kids to listen to it this time. We prepared last week with an FHE lesson on prophets and then told them that we get to listen to our prophet on TV soon. When the time came I had a bunch of supplies. We had a chart of all the General Authorities and Auxillary Presidencies so that they could find the speaker on the chart and put a star sticker on them. We had the usual General Conference Bingo and lots of yummy treats and candy. We also had a coloring page of Pres. Monson, a Conference booklet with all the 1st Pres. and the 12 and a space to write what they were talking about (our kids don't write, but they drew a picture of what they talked about and Easton's illustrations were pretty good!). And we also had a fun game of Memory using the pictures of the First Pres. and 12 Apostles. It was a pretty good experiment and turned out to be quite successful. Our kids will be even more prepared for the next Conference and for all the ones in years to come. Hopefully, someday they'll be able to get a whole lot more out of conference and apply it to thier own lives, but for now I'll be happy that they are at least quiet, in the room, and sort of paying attention to what is being said.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe! (complements of Rachel Ray) 1 stick butter 1 c. brown sugar 2 eggs 1 c. canned pumpkin puree 1 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla 1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. baking soda 3/4 tsp. salt 1 2/3 c. flour
Filling: 1/2 stick butter 2 pinches salt 4 oz. cream cheese 1 c. confectioners sugar
Preheat to 350. Whisk butter and sugar until smooth, then add everything else, but fold in the flour at the end. Make 24 mounds on baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes or until springy. Cool completely. Put 2 halves together with the filling to make your whoopie pies. Note: These may be frozen for up to 3 days and still be good.
On Friday we went to the local Children's Museum. It cost $12 for the whole family, and it was totally NOT WORTH IT! They had some cool stuff, all jammed into one room, but my kids didn't even touch any of it. They went down the slide maybe twice, Easton ventured into the castle so I could take a picture, and then the rest of the time they played with the train table and the dinosaur figures. They could have done this at home....FOR FREE!!! Oh well, now I know better, and we won't be back to pay a second visit to that museum ever again.
On Saturday, we took advantage of the Smithsonian Free Museum Day, and took a day-trip out to Fort Walla Walla. The boys loved it! We saw tons of little-boy-friendly things. They also had a bunch of living-history demonstrations going on that day too, so the boys got to help the blacksmith hammer out some metal hooks. We had a great picnic, toured through the famous historic main street in Walla Walla, saw the Whitman College campus, and enjoyed a peaceful drive home through wine country (while all the boys napped in the back of the van). It was a beautiful weekend, and probably the last hot weekend of the year. We were glad to enjoy it in the great outdoors.
Today, I am extremely grateful! Scott has been without work now for 3 months, and things have been slow in the job market, and we hadn't been getting much of a response from employers, until now! After lots of prayers, personal and family fasts, he just had an interview last week, has one this week in person, is being flown out for an interview the first week of October, and just advanced to the second round of hiring for another job and will probably interview with them later this week. Oh, the blessings are plentiful in our house!! Scott did a personal fast on Tuesday, and before he left the house to go do his volunteer work, he said, "I'm not even fasting for a job this time, I'm just fasting for an interview." And no joke, 2 hours later he was called to set up an interview, and they just keep coming. We get very excited to see that the employment world isn't completely stagnant, and that someone is paying attention to the resumes when they come rolling into thier offices. Its just nice to be noticed! Now if I could only convince all these prospective employers that they would be the smartest people in the world if they chose my husband to fill thier open positions. He's the best!!
Easton just started his first day of preschool today. He was very excited about it and loved his new Spiderman backpack that he picked out. When it came time to go to school though, he said, "No, I don't want to go to school!" (Uh-oh!) But when we finally got him ready and were out the door, he seemed warmed up to the idea. When we got to his school, he met other kids in his class coming off the bus, and followed his teacher into the classroom. He put away his backpack, and put his name tag on, and then I gave him a big hug, told him I loved him, and left.
Note: This is a full-time preschool (4 days a week, for 1/2 day) at my Mom's Elementary school, and she is only 4 doors down from his classroom.
I stayed at the school to help my mom put together a shelf in her classroom, and I admit, I wandered down the hall and peeked in on Easton a few times. I saw him eating his lunch like such a big boy with all of his friends at a table, and then saw him riding tricycles, and playing with everyone on the playground. He seemed to be doing great.
I went home and waited another hour, and then went back to pick him up. When he saw me, he ran toward me and gave me a hug and said, "Mommy, I had a good day at school today." He is such a big boy and I can't even believe it! He told me all the fun things he did at school that day, but of course didn't know any of the other kids' names. This preschool will be such a good thing for him, and me, and get us ready for Kindergarten next year. Hooray for school!
p.s. I know I took a lot of pictures, I'm a dork, but it was my first 'first day of school' experience, and I was a little excited....and nervous.
Max had his first real bites of solid food this morning starting off with some yummy rice cereal. The first bite he just let sit in his mouth for a little bit figuring out what it was and what to do with it, but once he swallowed, he went to town! He was grabbing for the spoon and opening up wide for more and more. He loved it! I only gave him a tablespoon full, because thats all they suggest you start with, but he finished it and wanted more. Maybe tomorrow I'll give him 2 tablespoons full. Max is quite the chunky kid, but the way he acts around food, you'd think I've been starving him for weeks! Hopefully this pattern will continue through his toddlerhood, because I can't get his brothers to eat anything!
Scott has been slaving away trying to finish my parents' backyard. He's been putting up a retaining wall, fence posts and slats, and filling in dirt to make it all level. We now can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it almost looks like a real backyard. One whole side is fenced in, and the gate is up on the other side, the dirt is almost filled in and leveled, and the retaining wall is just a few more bricks away from completion. It looks great and I personally can't wait until I can send my kids out into a fully fenced backyard to just play thier hearts away!
Lets just say that Luke is exhibiting his independence in very humorous ways. (The front was even more fun, but a little inappropriate for the internet.) Oh yeah, and he's doing great at the potty training thing!
These are approximate measurements since there is no doctor appointment at 5 months.
Weight: 17.5 pounds
Height: 26 inches
Eyes: Turning brown/hazel
Hair: Not much, but still a medium brown color, a little darker than my other boys.
He is such a happy boy, most of the time. He has been fussy lately because one of his bottom teeth will be coming in soon. He smiles often, but rarely giggles, and has rolled over from back to front once, in fact it was just 2 days ago. This month he also attended his first fair and first football game. He is enjoying his exersaucer more, and loves his little yellow fuzzy duck that he attacks and tries to bite the head off of. Max is still squishy and lots of fun to cuddle with, and we love him so much!
It seems as soon as school starts somewhere, the Christmas displays are up in full force. I haven't even started thinking about what my kids will be for Halloween, let alone deciding on Christmas presents yet. I feel like I am so far behind! I think there should be a law passed that doesn't allow Christmas stuff to go up until at least mid-October, because by then most people are at least prepared for Halloween and that stuff is starting to be Clearanced off the shelves. Anyone have any good Christmas ideas for thier kids? I need help!!!
On Sunday, we officially started potty training Luke. He turns 3 in about 6 weeks, and we are going to be at my parents for quite a while, so I thought now was as good a time as any. I went around town looking for plastic pants to put over his underwear, and basically found out that they do not exist after shopping at every store in the Tri-Cities, but I did find these cool star marbles and a jar at the dollar store.
On Sunday, we pulled out his brand new Lightning McQueen underwear, and the Star Jar, and explained to him that he wasn't going to wear diapers anymore (except during sleep time) and that each time he went potty he would get to put a star into the jar. When the jar is full he gets to go to the store and pick out his prize.
It was a hit! We had been doing trial runs with him for about a year now, but I was never ready to give it MY full effort as the mom who has to clean up the messes and drag the poor boy to the bathroom. But he and I were both finally ready, and so far, after 3 days, he hasn't had any accidents at all today, and he has asked me to go to the potty about 3 times now. He is, dare I say, basically potty trained! He has done awesome, and I'm sure loves all the praise and attention he is recieving for his efforts. I'm sure he'll love the Star Jar even more when he gets to go cash them in for some awesome toy in a few days. Luke Rocks!! (pardon the pun)
So this morning, while Scott and my dad worked on more of the retaining wall, and I was out shopping, the boys were playing in the dirt and riding bikes and having just a great time! Until my dad went back to the garage and discovered what my boys had been up to for the last 10 minutes or so when no one was watching. They found an entire bag full of about 20 little squeeze bottles of food coloring from all of my mom's teaching supply stuff that was in the garage and decided to make sidewalk art out of it. It does not come out! My dad even used his pressure-washer on the sidewalk, and nothing! Finally they got some heavy-duty garage floor cleaner at Costco and it has started to get up some of the color.
My boys really were having a great time, but once they found out that they were in trouble, they were so sad and sorry for what they had done. Oh yeah, it was all over them too (hands, face, etc.). Boys will be boys!
I have never run before in my existence until last January when I joined the Pingel family's quest to race in the Freedom Run 5k. I was the girl in P.E. who walked the entire mile time test with her friends and gabbed the whole time taking about 16-17 minutes to walk a mile. I think I walk/ran it once in about 12 1/2 minutes because my P.E. teacher threatened to fail me on the mile if I didn't at least try. One time I can even remember training at my dance coach's house because I had missed a practice, and she took us on a run to get warmed up before we started, and I puked afterwards because it was more than I could handle. I couldn't stand running! It was way more effort than I ever wanted to give, and it felt like exercise, unlike dancing or playing basketball.
But now, after 3 kids, being in horrible shape, and probably 20 pounds heavier than I was in high school, I have taken up running...and I actually enjoy it! I am never super excited about starting a run, but the finish always makes me feel so accomplished and ready to take on the next challenge. I have now run in two 5k races, keeping a steady albeit slow pace, and was able to run the whole thing without stopping to walk. I am now looking forward to the next goal in mind: running a 10k by next summer. It will still take quite the effort since I am huffing and puffing to the finish line in the 5k, but if I actually train, I think I might be able to do it!
p.s. Scott has taken up running too, but it takes way less effort on his part, and I think he finished the 5k as I started on my 3rd mile. He's awesome! Its always nice to have the same interest and goals as your spouse...it makes goals so much easier to accomplish when you are both pushing each other to see it through.
Easton has completed his 2 weeks of swim lessons and he did great! Who knew that in only 10 days he would learn so much! He mastered quite a few swim skills, including: The Front Float The Back Float and the Jelly Fish Float And at the end they had started to learn how to do the front and back crawl, but I think he'll have to save the rest of those for next summer in Level 3. I am so proud of him, and he has come such a long way, especially since last summer he was terrified of the water and wouldn't leave the steps of the pool. Way to go Easton!! p.s. Easton can seriously hold his breath under water for a whole minute, its freakin' awesome!
Ahhhhh! A mother's worst nightmare (after her first-born of course). Max is trying to roll from back to front. I was hoping that he would love me more than his brothers did and just stay still until he was at least 18. Next thing you know, he'll be sitting, then crawling, walking, and then running!! He is growing too much and too fast! Stop Max, please stop!
No, he isn't getting paid for them, but we are recieving free rent at my parents house. The list is long and plentiful and will last him until we leave (whenever that may be). My parents just moved into a newly built home and there is still a lot of work to be done, and most of it in the backyard. The list includes: Cleaning out the garage of unpacked and still packed items. Building a retaining wall for the sloped side of the backyard. Installing a new fence, and staining it once its done. And items still not even begun include installing an underground sprinkler system, laying grass seed, building a shed, and any other projects my mom and dad can think of. Scott is busy and loving it. It beats sitting on a couch and watching Sports Center all day!
Scott is the City Manager in Dayton, Oregon, Lindsey is a stay-at-home mom and part-time substitue teacher. Easton is 8 and getting too smart, Luke is 6 and getting taller by the minute, Max is 4 and getting crazier by the second, and Ginny is 2 and getting cuter by the moment.